Birmingham city council is pushing on with work to establish what the introduction of a Clean Air Zone would mean for the city and how it can be implemented.
Birmingham is one of five cities – alongside Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton – which the government has promised will have a Clean Air Zone in place by 2020 to ensure compliance with UK and EU air quality legislation.
Work is underway on feasibility studies to identify areas of Birmingham where air pollution is highest and how a Clean Air Zone would be implemented.
The council will also be consulting with affected groups – including taxi drivers, bus operators, and business owners – on how measures to reduce air pollution in the city would impact on them. Figures show that bus and taxi drivers are exposed to three times more pollution than anyone else due to the time spent sitting in traffic.
Birmingham council launched a 12-month research project earlier this year on vehicle emissions data as part of work to introduce a ‘Clean Air Zone’ in the city (see AirQualityNews.com story).
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a consultation on the introduction of Clean Air Zones last week (see AirQualityNews.com story), but Birmingham council has been working towards a more sustainable city through various initiatives including the Birmingham Connected programme, which aims to transform the way people travel around the city.
According to Birmingham council, figures show that as many as 891 deaths a year can be linked to man-made pollution in Birmingham alone, mostly through transport and the increased use of diesel vehicles.
By contrast, there are fewer than 30 deaths resulting from collisions on Birmingham’s roads each year.
Councillor Lisa Trickett, cabinet member for clean streets, recycling and environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “We cannot afford to be complacent about air pollution. It has been linked to cancer, diabetes, asthma, stroke and heart disease, and also hundreds of deaths each year in Birmingham alone – this is completely unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.
“Birmingham is a rapidly growing city, with an increasing number of people choosing to live and work here, so we need to take action now to bring down pollutants including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter which have the most impact on health, for the good of all our citizens and visitors, ensuring we are compliant by 2020.
“We are already working to identify the areas with the most serious pollution, what is causing it and how we will reduce it over the next three years and beyond.
“This could include replacing older, polluting vehicles with modern, cleaner versions, discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering certain areas of the city, and encouraging people to change their travel behaviour and consider public transport or cycling instead of their cars.â€?